The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, my first cookbook, turns 10 years old in a few weeks, and inside it is what I call one of the best summer desserts I’ve ever made, peach dumplings with bourbon hard sauce. These were a whim that occured to me one morning before dawn when my then-baby (and, as of 11 days ago, a Bar Mitzvah) woke up early and lacked interest in going back to sleep and my mind drifted, as it does, to things I’d like to cook.
The peach dumplings were modeled on old-fashioned apple dumplings and I’m not sure why it took me so long to reverse this process for fall, but now that I have, I don’t want to bake anything else. I’m absolutely obsessed with these perfect packets of apple pie. Everything I loved about the peach dumplings is true here too: The crust, unhindered by a heavy filling, expands and flakes like puff pastry. When you cut into each, a trickle of buttery brown sugar caramel floods your plate. And the best part of it is actually the mess — chunks of spiced baked fruit, buttery layers of dough, a mingled puddle of juices. And should you like a splash of whiskey with your apple desserts, you are going to swoon over it in the sauce, melting over the sides. Please make these soon. You’ll be so glad you did.
I did not mean to disappear on you, or the newsletter. As you might have guessed, I was thrown off course by that aforementioned Bar Mitzvah [“what’s a Bar Mitzvah?“] and 13th birthday — which seem impossible as he was just born, right? — and a few other exciting things. Smitten Kitchen Keepers, my third cookbook, will be out in 48 days, and a week earlier than originally planned. We are working on putting the final details together for the Fall 2022 Book Tour — I’ll have everything for you next Thursday, 10/6. I might even have another new recipe before then, since I was behind in posting, not cooking, hooray. Did I cover everything? I probably forgot something so away in the comments!
6 months ago: Simple Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 year ago: Big Apple Crumb Cake
2 years ago: Homemade Cream Cheese
3 years ago: Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan
4 years ago: Flapjacks
5 years ago: Tomato Bread + A Bit About Spain
6 years ago: How to Julienne and Plum Squares with Marzipan Crumble
7 years ago: Caponata and Zucchini Rice and Cheese Gratin
8 years ago: Chocolate and Toasted Hazelnut Milk and Herbed Tomato and Roasted Garlic Tart
9 years ago: Baked Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
10 years ago: Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella and Fig Olive Oil and Sea Salt Challah
11 years ago: Peach Butter, Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Mint, and Red Wine Chocolate Cake
12 years ago: Grape Foccaccia with Rosemary and Linguine with Tomato-Almond Pesto
13 years ago: Cheesecake-Marbled Brownies
14 years ago: Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee, Bourbon Peach Hand Pies and Raspberry Breakfast Bars and Braised Romano Beans
15 years ago: Hoisin Barbecue Sauce and Lemon Layer Cake
16 years ago: Silky Cauliflower Soup and Summer Squash Soup
- 2 1/2 cups (325 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) fine sea or table salt
- 1 cup (8 ounces or 225 grams) unsalted butter, very cold
- About 1/2 cup cold water
- 3 large apples (about 3″ across), any kind you like to bake with
- Half a lemon
- 1/2 cup (110 grams) light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- A few gratings of fresh nutmeg, or a couple pinches of ground
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) butter, cut into 6 pieces, kept cold
- 1 large egg, for glaze
- 2 tablespoons (1 ounces or 30 grams) butter, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon whiskey, milk, or lemon juice
- A dash of vanilla extract (optional)
- Make the crust:
- By hand : In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Work the butter into the flour with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. (Some people like to do this by freezing the stick of butter and coarsely grating it into the flour, but I haven’t found the results as flaky.) Add cold water and stir with a spoon or flexible silicone spatula until large clumps form. Use your hands to knead the dough together, right in the bottom of the bowl. If necessary to bring the dough together, you can add another tablespoon of water.
- With a food processor: In the work bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add butter and pulse machine until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. Turn mixture out into mixing bowl. Add cold water and stir with a spoon or flexible spatula until large clumps form. Use your hands to knead the dough together, right in the bottom of the bowl. If necessary to bring the dough together, you can add the last tablespoon of water.
- Both methods: Wrap dough in a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours, or you can quick-firm this in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. Longer than 2 days, it’s best to freeze it until needed.
Heat your oven: To 375°F
Assemble the dumplings: Peel and halve your apples. Use the large side of a melon baller, if you have one, or a tablespoon measuring spoon, to scoop the core out of each half. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the apples. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mound a heaped tablespoon of the mixture in the scooped-out center of each apple half. Dot the top of each with a piece of the cold butter.
On a well-floured counter, roll your dough out to a 12-by-18-inch rectangle and divide into six 6-inch squares. If dough gets too soft or warm while you’re rolling it, continue to the square stage, but then transfer the squares to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill them in the freezer for a couple minutes, until they’re semi-firm again.
Place a filled apple half, cut side-up, in the center of each dough square. Bring corners up to meet each other over the center – if it feels tight, or as if you’re short of dough, make sure that the dough underneath is flush with the apple curve; it holds a lot of slack – and seal the seams together, pinching with your fingertips.
Bake dumplings: Arrange dumplings in a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Whisk egg together with one teaspoon water to form a glaze. Brush glaze over the tops and exposed sides of dumplings. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until pastries are puffed and bronzed on top.
To finish and serve: While the dumplings bake, beat butter, powdered sugar, and whiskey, lemon juice, or milk together with vanilla until smooth. When dumplings come out of the oven, dollop each with a heaping tablespoon of the sauces, which will melt over the sides. Serve right away.
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